Tuesday, April 1, 2014

A Second Helping of Murder

Author: Christine Wenger
Genre: Mystery

Five Stars
 
Trixie Matkowski is warming up to running her family's diner in the small town of Sandy Harbor in upstate New York.  But the only thing more demanding than serving piping-hot comfort food twenty-four hours a day is getting to the bottom of a double homicide...
 
Trixie fondly remembers summers as a child spent visiting the shores of Lake Ontario.  Not much has changed-there are still vinyl booths at the Silver Bullet Diner, families eating home-cooked comfort food, and days of swimming in the lake.
 
But before Trixie can say "Order's up," someone's summer is abruptly cut short.  One of the cottage residents is found dead, and Trixie suspects the crime might be linked to an unsolved disappearance in the picturesque town's past.
 
As Trixie works with Deputy Ty Brisco to solve both mysteries, their shocking discoveries will shake up the small town.  And when word gets out that she's on the case, Trixie's in trouble-after all, the murderer won't spare her life just because she makes a killer corned beef sandwich...(from back cover).
 
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I wasn't sure what to expect, since I've never read this author, but she reeled me in immediately.  I liked the fact that I was drawn into Trixie's life from the get-go, she started talking about her life as if I were there to share it with her, and that was indeed a nice beginning.  Also, I really liked the plot: the remains of a former summer renter is found in a cave, and since Trixie knew the girl and liked her, she wants to find the killer.  Especially since shortly after, another murder takes place in one of Trixie's cottages, and people start cancelling their reservations.  Convinced the two murders are connected somehow, nearly everyone who knew the girl twenty-five years ago becomes a suspect, at least in Trixie's mind.
 
Trixie bought the diner, cabins, and her house (which she refers to as 'the Big House') from her aunt Stella, who retired after her husband died.  Since she spent much of her girlhood there, working and playing, she has always had a fondness for it; and since she needed something in her life after her messy divorce, the timing seemed ideal.  However, the murders have placed her front and center with a new goal in her life - find the killer, or killers.
 
Although she is repeatedly cautioned by Ty to stay out of the case, she lets him know that she has no intentions to do so, justifying it by the fact that she's the one losing money by not renting her lake cabins, not him.  The interaction between these two is believeable, and fun to witness.
 
What bothered me, however, was the fact that all the 'good guys,' her staff included, have great personalities - always smiling, happy, go-getters, fun-loving, etc.; and the 'bad guys,' (the suspects), are all people who are nasty, mean, unhappy, etc.  Even the sunniest of people still have off days, but none of her friends ever do.  They're willing to move heaven and earth to help her.  The other thing was her repetitive use of the word "fabulous."  The author must have used it at least fifty times.  Everything was fabulous - even Deputy Ty, who is from Texas, used it once.  No self-respecting cowboy (and I know, since my Dad's a Texan and half my family still lives there) would use the word 'fabulous'.  At least I never heard it from my Dad, anyway.
 
Apart from those two things, this book was a great read.  I loved the fact that the original murder was so old and had to be revisited (digging into the past in a mystery is always interesting), and even though the reasons the murders were committed weren't original, it was understandable and woven into a tightly knitted plot that made this a pleasure.  I highly recommend this book and will certainly be reading the first in the series - Do or Diner.
 

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